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4-H Promotion Compendium: "The Patriots" - Representing 4-H Talent Shows

A National Compendium of 4-H Promotion and Visibility over the Past Century

"The Patriots" - Representing 4-H Talent Shows

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The Patriots – a 4-H quartet from Washington County, Kentucky made quite a name for themselves, starting out in the county 4-H variety show. A couple of years later, in 1968, and still young teenagers, the quartet was featured in National 4-H News having just completed a 3-continent, 37-day tour taking them to Paris, Rome, the Holy Land, Athens and the Congo displaying their singing talents.

So, what is so special about this group? The four boys – Jerry Lester, Tony Royalty, Terry Lester and Sammy Bodine – obviously are talented. They even had a record out. But the Patriots are not that different from scores of other 4-H individuals and groups who are brimming with musical talent. For decades, starting as early as the 1920s, county and state music competitions were some of the most popular events in 4-H. No matter whether they were called variety shows, talent shows, share-the-fun festivals... or, any other name, they helped young boys and girls with musical talent display their skills and gain self-confidence.

There were full fledged 4-H marching bands in full uniform, 30- and 40-piece 4-H orchestras, dance and swing bands. Many of them toured, reaching large audiences, like at the 1933 World's Fair, or appeared on network radio and television shows (including Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour). They sang and danced and played their instruments with the very best musicians of the day. And, they always let people know that they were 4-H'ers.

These local county talent shows are how some groups got their start, like the group "Alabama" for example. The National 4-H History Preservation team hopes to document and write this story about 4-H musical talent in the near future. It certainly is one more aspect of 4-H promotion and visibility.

Compiled by National 4-H History Preservation Team.

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